A federal judge has ruled that Secret Service agents violated the constitutional rights of a Texas-based evangelical ministry when they seized thousands of “Million Dollar Bill” gospel tracts.
U.S. District Judge Jorge Solis also ruled that the Great News Network did not violate federal law by distributing the dollar-sized tracts that the U.S. Treasury Department viewed as counterfeit currency.
“The Million Dollar Bill, taken as a whole, poses no reasonable risk of deceiving an honest, sensible and unsuspecting person,” Solis wrote in his March 30 decision.
Secret Service agents arrived unannounced at the ministry’s headquarters in Denton on June 1, 2006, and demanded that officials hand over the tracts, which are printed to look like a $1million bill, with an image of President Grover Cleveland on the front.
The reverse side of the tract features “The million-dollar question: Will you go to heaven?”
Despite protests from ministry officials, the agents seized 8,300 tracts with no warrant. The ministry later filed suit, alleging violations of the constitutional protection against unreasonable searches and seizures.
Solis said that the tract “Is designed to look like U.S. currency at first glance, but not designed to fool anyone into believing that it is real U.S. currency,” and was never used by “an individual trying to pass it as legal tender.”
The U.S. government does not print million-dollar bills. Banknotes only go up to $1,000.